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Manslaughter – a Less Culpable Homicide

In Geauga County, Ohio, Rita Greifenstein, a 66-year-old woman, shot and killed her 68-year-old husband in their kitchen. Mrs. Greifenstein claimed that she shot her husband in self-defense. The police stated that the two had been arguing for hours before the gunshot. The prosecutor decided to charge her with voluntary manslaughter after determining that her husband’s actions provoked Mrs. Greifenstein into shooting him.

Manslaughter and murder both result in the death of another person. Manslaughter is considered a lesser offense because it is done neither with the planned intent to kill nor in the course of committing another violent crime.

Voluntary manslaughter: killing in a heat of passion or unnecessary self-defense

Voluntary manslaughter is a killing that occurs under the influence of a sudden fit of passion or rage brought on by the victim’s provocation or unnecessary self-defense. Crimes of passion resulting in the death of a person are classic examples of voluntary manslaughter. Unnecessary self-defense is an unreasonable and disproportionate response to an attack, such as using a gun to defend against an attacker using only fists. Voluntary manslaughter is a first-degree felony resulting in three to 10 years in prison.

Involuntary manslaughter: the unintentional homicide

You commit involuntary manslaughter if you unintentionally kill another person in the course of committing either a nonviolent felony or a misdemeanor. For example, assume it is a misdemeanor to ride your bicycle on the sidewalk. You ignore that law, ride your bike on the sidewalk and knock over a pedestrian who dies as a result of the fall. You never intended to hurt anyone, but as a result of your misdemeanor offense, someone is dead and the consequence is that you can be charged with involuntary manslaughter. Involuntary manslaughter can be charged as a first-degree felony if the victim’s death resulted from your violation of a felony or a third-degree felony if the death resulted from your violation of a misdemeanor. Either way, you are facing time in prison.

If you or someone you know is charged with either voluntary or involuntary manslaughter, seek representation from the Columbus Ohio criminal defense attorneys at Yavitch & Palmer Co., LPA. We are experienced in defending manslaughter cases and have the resources and support personnel necessary to aggressively and thoroughly investigate your case to provide you with the best possible defense.

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